Waltham Forest – London’s first Borough of Culture!

 Some of our Waltham Forest Labour Councillors taking our bid to City Hall and London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Some of our Waltham Forest Labour Councillors taking our bid to City Hall and London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Last year our borough launched an ambitious bid to be London’s first Borough of Culture. On Tuesday 27th February 2018 I went to City Hall where the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced that we won!

Our success means we will see £1.35 million injected into the borough and will allow us to bring a once-in- a-lifetime cultural programme of events to make our vibrant community an even better place for all our residents. Because of our successful bid, we will gain even more investment, create more jobs and enhance our reputation as a centre for creativity.

This Labour Council recognises the important part culture plays in our everyday lives.
Culture is not just fun and exciting; it fills every part of us, it educates us, it broadens our minds and it brings everyone together. I see this at every event I attend, whether sport, art, literature, film or theatre and that is why, despite huge cuts to our budget from the coalition and now this Tory Government - £115 million since 2010 – Waltham Forest has gone from strength to strength and continued to invest in culture.

As a Labour-led Council, we believe that it is vital that everyone has access to the cultural offer in our borough, uniting our community and celebrating Waltham Forest’s diverse and vibrant cultural heritage. That is why our events are free for everyone to attend, providing access for the many, not just the elite few.

We have made the decision to invest a further £300,000 over the next year, providing
£15,000 per ward for community events, art and culture. Working alongside our residents, it is you who will make a valuable contribution as to how the money is spent.

Of course the jewel in the crown has been the opening of the spectacular Walthamstow
Wetlands, the largest urban wetlands in Europe. We worked alongside the Greater London Authority, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Thames Water to transform the visitors centre and allow free public access to this incredible open space.

With the recent announcements that the Regal cinema in Highams Park will be taken over by Rio and that alongside the Soho Theatre Group, the iconic EMD will be completely revamped and returned to its former glory, we have much to look forward to. Three years ago there were no cinemas in Waltham Forest and with the EMD, the Regal and Empire Cinema in the Scene, we will soon have three!

We will see a fantastic ‘Molecules on the Marshes’ light installation on the Walthamstow Marshes, an annual Leytonstone Film Festival to celebrate our film-making heritage and local talent and the investment in Leyton Cricket Ground, turning it into a community food hub with a new local restaurant, café and training facilities, to name but a few of the upcoming highlights.

I want to thank all of our residents, local businesses and community groups who participated in our bid. Let me be absolutely clear that without your support, hard work and creativity, we would not have been able to showcase the fantastic and varied range of cultural programmes we have. I also want to thank all of those dedicated officers who have spearheaded our campaign, making our bid such a phenomenal success.

But we have much more to do and more to look forward to. We hope you enjoy everything on offer and take full advantage of having such a diverse range of cultural activities right on your doorstep. I look forward to working alongside all of
you to make sure that 2019 is only the start of our boroughs cultural journey.

Cllr Clare Coghill

Leader of Waltham Forest Council